California Gov. Jerry Brown toured areas devastated by wildfires and remarked that the state faces a “new reality” due to climate change.
At least one person has been confirmed dead and 800 homes have been destroyed, including 537 in the Thomas Fire, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said as Brown visited the affected areas.
“We’re facing a new reality in this state, where fires threaten people’s lives, their property, their neighborhoods, and, of course, billions and billions of dollars,” Brown said. “And we know from the changing in the climate that it’s going to exacerbate everything else.”
Virginia Pesola, 70, of Santa Paula, was the first confirmed death as a result of the multiple blazes, as she was found dead Wednesday night at a car crash site along an evacuation route northeast of Ventura.
Firefighters were met with strong winds as they battled the blazes, bringing both the Rye Fire and Creek fires in Los Angeles, which spanned nearly 22,000 acres combined, to 90 percent containment, according to Cal Fire.
The week-old Thomas Fire remains the largest blaze in Southern California at 155,000 acres and 15 percent containment.
“It is a horror, and it is a horror we want to minimize,” Brown said.
Brown made his visit amid news the Thomas Fire had extended from Ventura County into Santa Barbara County.
“It is moving in a westerly direction. Incident commanders are not concerned. This behavior was predicted and expected. The situation is being closely monitored by incident commanders and field observers,” he said. “As with any fire, contingency plans are always thought of and in place. Any future responses are triggered when situations warrant due to expected fire behavior.”
The Lilac Fire, which broke out in San Diego County on Thursday, has burned 4,100 acres and was 60 percent contained on Sunday, according to Cal Fire.